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26.04.2007 General News

Govt Considers Plan To Arm Immigration Officers

The government is considering a proposal to review the regulatory framework to ensure that officers of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) carry arms, the Minister of the Interior, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, has said.

He said with increased reported cases of small arms trafficking across the country's borders coupled with illicit trafficking, armed robbery, smuggling and human trafficking, the country's borders had become insecure and that posed a security threat to the nation.

Mr Kan-Dapaah made this known in a speech read on his behalf by his deputy, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, at the opening of a two-day regional commanders conference of the GIS in Accra yesterday.

The conference, on the theme: “Identifying issues and challenges of the new border patrol project, the way forward”, seeks to fashion out ways to put in place an effective corps of border patrol personnel.

The Border Patrol Project (BPP), established by Cabinet in 2005, is a comprehensive plan to prevent illegal and irregular movement of persons, smuggling, trafficking and other cross-border crimes.

The main highlights of the project are the recruitment of more patrol agents to secure the borders and enforce immigration laws; increase investment in infrastructure with the provision of physical security to reduce illegal crossing and increase interior enforcement of immigration laws including more robust enforcement.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said the BPP was established due to the security threats to the nation at its borders.

He added that the Border Patrol Unit (BPU) was expected to carry out physical patrolling, apprehend illegal immigrants, suspected subversive activists and human and currency traffickers, arrest drug traffickers and smugglers, and act as the first line of defence for the Ghana Army in an event of external aggression.

The Director of the GIS, Ms Elizabeth Adjei, said in 2006, 900 new officers were recruited and trained to man the BPU.

Additionally, she added, 40 new vehicles and motorbikes had been acquired and preparations were being made to enhance infrastructure to enable the border patrol personnel to carry out their duties effectively.

Ms Adjei said currently, after lengthy preparatory works, the evaluation of tenders was complete and contracts for the construction of barracks and offices at the borders would commence in June, this year.

Under a separate grant, she said, communication and surveillance equipment, including computers and long range cameras, would be installed at major crossing points.

She said although the full complement of resources had not been delivered, the GIS had recorded significant operational successes, which included the arrest and repulsion of several immigrants through the eastern and northern frontiers.

“These are mostly Africans fleeing violent conflicts and escaping from drought resulting from environmental challenges. A small number of enemy combatants have also been arrested,” he added.

Story By Mark-Anthony Vinorkor

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